What started as a crisis for Southwest Airlines amid a winter storm turned into paralysis Monday night when the budget carrier apparently canceled all flights from Los Angeles-area airports through Dec. 31.
Thousands of flights were canceled across the country.
The airline’s website lists all departures from LAX, Hollywood Burbank Airport, Ontario International Airport and John Wayne Airport as “unavailable” until New Year’s Eve.
Passengers in LAKS told KTLA they were told the same thing.
Similar problems were reported at San Diego International Airport.
It was unclear if flights bound for Southern California were also affected.
Tirso Rayo was at LAX Monday night, trying to get home to Boise, Idaho. Their flight was canceled and rescheduling seemed unlikely.
“They don’t care,” Rajo said. “That’s bad business, I’ll never fly with these guys again.”
Others have opted to take the long way home by renting and carpooling, but available rentals are growing rapidly and prices for all remaining vehicles are rising.
The problems plaguing the South West come after one of the busiest weekends of the year and right in the middle of the winter break.
Long lines both in person and on the phone left travelers frustrated, exhausted and helpless without much information.
An alleged internal memo leaked by an employee on Monday blamed part of the operational crisis on employees calling in sick.
Southwest did not comment on the authenticity of the document.
Southwest apologized for the cancellation, which it called “unacceptable.” The company posted its latest update on Twitter around 8 a.m. Monday.
On Monday afternoon, the United States Department of Transportation said it would investigate the rate of cancellations and delays to determine whether they were preventable and whether Southwest was “in compliance with its customer service plan.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also said he was monitoring the situation closely and said we would have more information on Tuesday.
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